Friday, August 27, 2010

Respect for Teachers

This week, several readers sent me a link to an NEAToday article:

Instead of my usual blog, I hope that readers will take a few moments to read this interesting article from a Florida teacher. (NEAToday is published by the National Education Association.)

My concern as commissioner is that we do not see similar disquiet from Kentucky teachers. With the decision this week concerning federal Race to the Top (RTTT) funds, we are now faced with a major issue of funding for the implementation of 2009’s Senate Bill 1 (SB 1).

SB 1’s mandates and our Race to the Top plan are excellent. I feel certain that if we deploy the Race to the Top plan, we will have better results for college and career readiness than any state that actually received RTTT funding. The major problem is finding the funds to provide support to teachers.

Teachers will need textbooks, instructional materials, intervention materials, professional development and time to plan and meet with other teachers. These strategies do not come without a cost. I do believe that existing funds in the state budget could be reallocated to address the needs of SB 1. Now that we know there are no dollars from RTTT, we must begin to work on moving funds. This strategy will not be popular; however, we must focus on the Commonwealth rather than individual projects that serve only one or a handful of schools and districts.

Our most important assets in education are the teachers in the classrooms. Our most important natural resources in Kentucky are the children in the classrooms. These children cannot wait a generation to see if we have funding to improve our schools. We must invest now to ensure the future.

1 comment:

  1. I think that the Florida teacher touches on a number of important issues that hurt our ability to educate our children. Two, in particular, struck me hardest when I transitioned from scientist to science teacher.

    First, I see in the media and public discussion of education reform (much needed) an unwillingness to recognize the consequences of breaking the social contract with current educators: the exchange of low salary for job-security (tenure) and independence (individual classrooms). Ending tenure and eliminating teacher independence through assessment, while quite possibly very good things, will require the renegotiation of the salaries upwards or the acceptance of lower quality teachers in the future.

    Second, one of the more disturbing aspects of my transition from scientist to science teacher has been the seemingly utter disregard of policy makers and citizens for teacher's qualifications, expertise, and innovations. Sadly, our school leaders too often share that disregard.

    That is why I am so thrilled to see initiatives like UK's P20 Innovation Laboratory, which might create a place for teachers to innovate and to take risks to solve Kentucky's education challenges,